[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Fond du Lac at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II). Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby declared a matter of public policy that the protection, enhancement, perpetuation and use of improvements of special character or special historical interest or value are a public necessity and are required in the interest of health, prosperity, safety and welfare of the people. The purpose of this chapter is to:
Effect and accomplish the protection, enhancement, and perpetuation of such improvements and of districts which represent or reflect elements of the City of Fond du Lac's cultural, social, economic, political, engineering and architectural history.
Safeguard the City of Fond du Lac's historic and cultural heritage, as embodied and reflected in such historic structures, sites and districts.
Stabilize and improve property values.
Foster civic pride in the beauty and noble accomplishments of the past.
Protect and enhance the City of Fond du Lac's attractions to residents, tourists and visitors, and serve as a support and stimulus to business and industry.
Strengthen the economy of the City of Fond du Lac.
Promote the use of historic structures, sites and districts for the education, pleasure and welfare of the people of the City of Fond du Lac.
In this chapter, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Historic Preservation Commission created under this chapter.
- HISTORIC DISTRICT
- An area designated by the City Council of the City of Fond du Lac on recommendation of the Commission, composed of two or more improvement parcels that together comprise a district of special character or special historic interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the City of Fond du Lac, state or nation, and which has been designated as an historic district pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
- HISTORIC SITE
- Any parcel of land whose historic significance is due to a substantial value in tracing the history of aboriginal people, or upon which a historic event has occurred, and which has been designated as a historic site under this chapter, or an improvement parcel, or part thereof, on which is situated a historic structure and any abutting improvement parcel, or part thereof, used as and constituting part of the premises on which the historic structure is situated.
- HISTORIC STRUCTURE
- Any improvement which has a special character or special historic interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the City of Fond du Lac, state or nation and which has been designated as a historic structure pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
- Any building, structure, place, work of art or other object constituting a physical betterment of real property, or any part of such betterment.
- IMPROVEMENT PARCEL
- The unit of property which includes a physical betterment constituting an improvement and the land embracing the site thereof, and is treated as a single entity for the purpose of levying real estate taxes; provided, however, that the term "improvement parcel" shall also include any unimproved area of land which is treated as a single entity for such tax purposes.
Members. A Historic Preservation Commission is hereby created, consisting of seven members. Of the membership, it is desirable that one be a registered architect, one a historian qualified in the field of historic preservation, and one a licensed real estate broker. In addition, one shall be a councilman, and three shall be citizen members. Each member shall have, to the highest extent practicable, a known interest in historic preservation. Members shall be appointed pursuant to § 14-1 of this Code. Of the initial members so appointed, two shall serve a term of one year, two shall serve a term of two years, and three shall serve a term of three years. Thereafter, the term for each member shall be three years.
Officers. The Commission shall elect from its membership a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson whose terms of office shall be fixed by the bylaws. The Chairperson shall preside over the Commission and shall have the right to vote. The Vice Chairperson shall, in all cases of absence of the Chairperson, perform the duties of the Chairperson. A majority of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The Commission shall adopt rules for the transaction of its business which shall provide for the time, place and manner of holding regular and special meetings. All meetings of the Commission shall be open to the public and any person or his duly constituted representative shall be entitled to appear and to be heard on any matter before the Commission before it reaches its decision.
Secretary and staff. The Commission shall appoint a Secretary who shall keep a record of all minutes, resolutions and proceedings and other actions of the Commission.
For the purpose of this chapter, a historic structure, historic site, or historic district designation may be placed on any site, natural or improved, including any building, improvement or structure located thereon, or any area of particular historic, architectural or cultural significance to the City of Fond du Lac, such as historic structures, sites and districts which:
Exemplify or reflect the broad cultural, political, economic or social history of the nation, state or community;
Are identified with historic personages or with important events in national, state or local history;
Embody the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type or specimen inherently valuable for a study of a period, style, method of construction, or of indigenous materials or craftsmanship; or
Are representative of the notable work of a master builder, designer or architect whose individual genius influenced his age.
The Commission may adopt specific operating guidelines for landmark sites designation, provided that such are in conformance with the provisions of this section.
Designation. The Commission shall have the power, subject to § 374-6, to designate historic structures, historic sites and historic districts within the City of Fond du Lac limits. Such designations shall be made based on § 374-4. Once designated by the Commission, such historic structures, sites and districts shall be subject to all the provisions of this chapter. Historic district designations must be approved by the City Council of the City of Fond du Lac.
Regulation of construction, reconstruction and exterior alteration.
Any application for a permit from the Building Inspector involving the exterior of a designated historic site or structure within an historic district shall be filed with the Historic Preservation Commission.
No owner or person in charge of an historic site or structure within an historic district shall reconstruct or alter all or any part of the exterior of such property or construct any improvement upon such designated property or properties within an historic district or cause or permit any such work to be performed upon such property unless a certificate of appropriateness has been granted by the Historic Preservation Commission. Unless such certificate has been granted by the Commission, the Building Inspector shall not issue a permit for any such work.
Review of application.
Upon filing of any application with the Historic Preservation Commission, the Historic Preservation Commission shall determine:
Whether, in the case of a designated historic structure or site, the proposed work would detrimentally change, destroy or adversely affect any exterior architectural feature of the improvement upon which said work is to be done;
Whether, in the case of the construction of a new improvement upon a historic site, the exterior of such improvement would adversely affect or not harmonize with the external appearance of other neighboring improvements on such site; and
Whether, in the case of any property located in an historic district designated pursuant to the terms of Subsection D, hereunder, the proposed construction, reconstruction or exterior alteration does not conform to the objectives and design criteria of the historic preservation plan for said district as duly adopted by the City Council of the City of Fond du Lac.
In cases of a designated historic site which has had its principal structure completely destroyed by fire, demolition, other means, or conditions noted in § 374-9, the plan review requirements of this Subsection B shall not apply unless there is a designated historic site, historic structure, or historic district within 200 feet of the historic structure that has been destroyed.
If the Commission determines Subsection B(3)(a),  and  above in the negative, it shall issue the certificate of appropriateness. Upon the issuance of such certificate, the building permit shall then be issued by the Building Inspector. The Commission shall make this decision within 30 days of the filing of the application. Should the Commission refuse to issue a certificate of appropriateness due to the failure of the proposal to conform to the above guidelines, the applicant may appeal such decision to the Board of Appeals, which may grant said certificate by a three-fourths vote only, and then only upon a clear showing of economic hardship by the applicant. In addition, if the Commission fails to issue a certificate of appropriateness, the Commission shall, at the request of the applicant, cooperate and work with the applicant in an attempt to obtain a certificate of appropriateness within the guidelines of this chapter.
Regulation of demolition. No permit to demolish all or part of an historic structure, or improvement in an historic district, shall be granted by the Building Inspector except as follows:
No person in charge of an historic structure shall be granted a permit to demolish such property under any circumstances without first receiving the written approval of the Commission.
At such time as such person applies for a permit to demolish such property, such application shall be filed with the Commission. Upon such application, the Commission may refuse to grant such written approval for a period of up to six months from the time of such application for single-family homes and up to one year for other types of structures, during which time Commission and the applicant shall undertake serious and continuing discussions for the purpose of finding a method to save such property. During such period, the applicant and the Commission shall cooperate in attempting to avoid demolition of the property. At the end of the required time period, if no mutually agreeable method of saving the subject property bearing a reasonable prospect of eventual success is underway, or if no formal application for funds from any governmental unit or nonprofit organization to preserve the subject property is pending, the Building Inspector may issue the permit to demolish the subject property without the approval of the Commission. If such mutually agreeable method for saving the subject property is not successful or no such funds to preserve the subject property have been obtained and available for disbursement within a period of 60 days following the end of the required time period, the Building Inspector may issue the permit to demolish the subject property without the approval of the Commission.
Standards. In determining whether to issue a certificate of appropriateness for any demolition, the Commission shall consider and may give decisive weight to any or all of the following:
Whether the building or structure is of such architectural or historic significance that its demolition would be detrimental to the public interest and contrary to the general welfare of the people of the City of Fond du Lac and the state.
Whether the building or structure, although not itself a designated historic structure, contributes to the distinctive architectural or historic character of the historic district as a whole and therefore should be preserved for the benefit of the people of the City of Fond du Lac and the state.
Whether demolition of the subject property would be contrary to the purpose and intent of this chapter as set forth in § 374-1 and to the objectives of the historic preservation plan for the applicable district as duly adopted by the City Council of the City of Fond du Lac.
Whether the building or structure is of such old and unusual or uncommon design, texture and/or material that it could not be reproduced or be reproduced only with great difficulty and/or expense.
Whether retention of the building or structure would promote the general welfare of the people of the City of Fond du Lac and the state by encouraging study of American history, architecture and design or by developing an understanding of American culture and heritage.
Whether the building or structure is in such a deteriorated condition that it is not structurally or economically feasible to preserve or restore it, provided that any hardship or difficulty claimed by the owner which is self-created or which is the result of any failure to maintain the property in good repair cannot qualify as a basis for the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness.
Whether any new structure proposed to be constructed or change in use proposed to be made is compatible with the buildings and environment of the district in which the subject property is located.
Appeal. An appeal from the decision of the Commission to grant or deny a certificate of appropriateness, whether this determination is made upon receipt of the application for a demolition permit or at the end of the three-month period in a case where action on the application has been suspended, or to suspend action on a demolition application may be taken to the Board of Appeals of the City of Fond du Lac by the applicant for the demolition permit. Such appeal shall be initiated by filing a petition to appeal, specifying the grounds thereof, with the City Clerk within 10 days of the date the final decision of the Commission is made. The City Clerk shall file the petition to appeal with the Board of Appeals. After a public hearing, the Board of Appeals may by favorable vote of 3/4 of its members reverse or modify the decision of the Commission if, after balancing the interest of the public in preserving the subject property and the interest of the owner in using it for his or her own purposes, the Board of Appeals finds that, owing to special conditions pertaining to the specific piece of property, demolition will preclude any and all reasonable use of the property and/or will cause serious hardship for the owner, provided that any self-created hardship shall not be a basis for reversal or modification of the Commission's decision.
Recognition of historic structures and historic sites. At such time as a historic structure or site has been properly designated in accordance with §§ 374-4 and 374-6 hereof, the Commission may cause to be prepared and erected on such property, at public expense, a suitable plaque declaring that such property is an historic structure or site. Such plaque shall be so placed as to be easily visible to passing pedestrians. In the case of an historic structure, the plaque shall state the accepted name of the structure, the date of its construction, and other information deemed proper by the Commission. In the case of an historic site which is not the site of an historic structure, such plaque shall state the common name of the site, and such other information deemed appropriate by the Commission.
Sale of historic structures and historic sites. Any party who is listed as the owner of record of an historic structure on site at the time of its designation, who can demonstrate to the Commission that by virtue of such designation he or she is unable to find a buyer willing to preserve such an historic structure or site, even though he or she has made reasonable attempts in good faith to find and attract such a buyer, may petition the Commission for a rescission of its designation.
Following the filing of such petition with the Secretary of the Commission, the owner and the Commission shall work together in good faith to locate a buyer for the subject property who is willing to abide by its designation.
If, at the end of a period not exceeding three months from the date of such petition, and upon demonstration of reasonable and diligent marketing efforts, no such buyer can be found, and if the owner still desires to obtain such rescission, the Commission shall rescind its designation of the subject property.
In the event of such rescission, the Commission shall notify the City Clerk, the Building Inspector, and the City Assessor of the same and shall cause the same to be recorded, at its own expense, in the office of the Fond du Lac County Register of Deeds.
Other duties. In addition to those duties already specified in this section, the Commission shall:
Actively work for the passage of enabling legislation which would permit the granting of full or partial tax exemptions to properties it has designated under the provisions of this chapter in order to encourage owners of historic properties to assist in carrying out the intent of this chapter.
Cooperate with the Historic Preservation Officer for the State of Wisconsin and the State Historic Preservation Review Board in attempting to include such properties hereunder designated as historic structures, sites, or districts in the National Register of Historic Places.
Work for the continuing education of the citizens about the historic heritage of the City of Fond du Lac and the historic structures and sites designated under the provisions of this chapter.
As it deems advisable, receive and solicit funds for the purpose of historic preservation in the City of Fond du Lac.
Designation of historic structures, historic sites and historic districts.
The Commission may, after notice published as a Class 1 notice and public hearing, as well as due notice to the parties in interest and adjacent property owners, establish historic structures and sites and may recommend historic districts, or rescind such designation or recommendation, after application of the criteria in § 374-4 above. The Commission shall also notify the following: Department of Public Works, Redevelopment Authority, Park Division, Fire and Police Departments, Inspection Division, Board of Appeals, and Plan Commission. Each such department shall respond to the Commission within 30 days of notification with its comments on the proposed designation or rescission. The Commission shall then conduct such public hearing and, in addition to the notified persons, may hear expert witnesses. The Commission may conduct an independent investigation into the proposed designation or rescission. Within 10 days after the close of the public hearing, the Commission may designate the property as either an historic structure or an historic site or recommend its inclusion in an historic district, or may rescind the designation.
Where the owner(s) of the property objects to the designation or rescission of a historic site, historic structure, or historic district, the property owner(s) may file a written appeal of the designation or rescission to the City Council within 10 days after the close of the public hearing. The City Council may affirm, deny or modify the designation or rescission. The action of the City Council shall not become effective except by the favorable vote of 3/4 of the entire membership of the City Council.
After the designation, recommendation or rescission has been made, notification shall be sent to the property owner or owners and to the persons who appeared at the public hearing. Notification shall also be given to the City Clerk, Building Inspector and the City Assessor. The Commission shall cause the designation or rescission to be recorded, at City expense, in the County Register of Deeds office, or the recommendation to be submitted to the City Council of the City of Fond du Lac as provided by Subsection C.
The City Plan Commission. The Plan Commission shall review the historic district plan and make a recommendation to the City Council. The Plan Commission shall make its recommendation on the historic district plan within 30 days.
The City Council. The City Council, upon receipt of the recommendations from the Historic Preservation Commission and Plan Commission, shall hold a public hearing, notice to be given as noted in Subsection A above, and shall following the public hearing either designate or reject the historic district. Designation of the historic district shall constitute adoption of the plan in ordinance form prepared for that district and direct the implementation of said plan.
Every person in charge of any historic structure, historic site or improvement in an historic district shall maintain the same or cause or permit it to be maintained in a condition consistent with the provisions of this chapter. The City Council may appoint the Building Inspector or other City employee to enforce this chapter.
Every person in charge of an improvement on an historic site or in an historic district shall keep in good repair all of the exterior portions of such improvement and all interior portions thereof which, if not so maintained, may cause or tend to cause the exterior portions of such improvement to fall into a state of disrepair. This provision shall be in addition to all other provisions of law requiring such improvement to be kept in good repair.
Insofar as they are applicable to an historic structure, historic site or improvement in an historic district, designated under this chapter, any provision of the plumbing code, the minimum housing and property maintenance code, building code, heating, ventilating and air conditioning code, and outdoor signs and outdoor advertising structures regulations of the general ordinances may be varied or waived, on application, by the appropriate board having such jurisdiction over such code or, in the absence of such board, by the Building Inspector, provided that such variance or waiver does not endanger public health or safety.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall prohibit the making of necessary construction, reconstruction, alteration or demolition of any historic structure or any improvement on an historic site or in an historic district pursuant to order of any appropriate City or state governmental official or pursuant to any court order having jurisdiction, for the purpose of remedying emergency conditions determined to be dangerous to life, health or property. In such cases, no approval from the Commission shall be required.
Except as otherwise provided, any person, firm, corporation or organization found to be in violation of any provisions of this chapter or any rule or order promulgated herein shall be subject to a penalty as provided in § 1-4 of this Code.